E learning and novel methods of teaching in physics

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E-learning and novel methods of teaching in Physics Richard Thompson (Dept of Physics) Background to the Physics department • • • • • We have 255 students in year All core lectures in one lecture theatre (seating 240) Approximately 10 hours of lectures per week Most material is highly mathematical Students need to learn methods, principles, concepts • Not just facts and formulae Physics departments and innovation? • Physicists have a reputation for resisting innovation • “Chalk and Talk” is well suited to mathematical material • Need to see a mathematical proof evolving step by step • This is clumsy with PowerPoint or OHPs • Blackboards allow students to see in real time where each piece of an equation comes from • Blackboards give a running history that can be referred back to • Blackboards allow a lecture to become theatre • The students themselves prefer “Chalk and Talk” Students’ appreciation of “chalk and talk” The effect of using coloured chalk E-learning in Physics • With 255 students in a 240-seat lecture theatre we had to adopt new technology! • Video-conferencing to an overflow room • Students see a high-resolution image of the lecturer and blackboard • Electronic media on a separate screen • Number using the overflow steady at ~15 • Blackboard is used for all lecture notes, PowerPoint presentations, problem sheets… • Though students preferred our previous intranet • Slow to adopt quizzes & discussion boards • • Metric for summer revision PowerPoint has been tried by many lecturers with a mixed reception Some SOLE comments about Powerpoint Powerpoint is a TERRIBLE way to teach maths and physics! It would be a lot easier if the lecturer wrote on the board, instead of doing all the lectures on PowerPoint I always feel myself dropping off to sleep when the lights dim and powerpoint starts up Chalk and talk please I find it impossible to follow powerpoint presentations for some reason Powerpoints are very hard to take notes from It is hard to follow complex mathematical concepts on powerpoint slides Some more SOLE comments Material done on the boards is supported well by powerpoint material Use of powerpoint slides worked very well The sections by XXX were excellent, and were examples of how powerpoint should be used as a learning aid The powerpoints made the lectures very well structured I liked the powerpoint with diagrams So what we conclude? • PowerPoint can be effective but not generally for very mathematical material • Need to present maths step by step • Need to refer back to earlier steps • Need to avoid going too fast! • PowerPoint is excellent for complex diagrams, images etc • Students like a mix of different media • Depends on the individual lecturer 0.8 Reflectance R » PowerPoint has no running history 0.6 0.4 s-pol 0.2 p-pol 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 Angle of incidence θ 70 80 90 Innovation in lectures • Simulations can help understanding • http://www.falstad.com/ripple/ • https://ptweb.op.ph.ic.ac.uk/~torokp/teaching/vectormaths/index.html • http://phet.colorado.edu/simulations/sims.php?sim=Quantum_Tunneling _and_Wave_Packets • • Help to visualise mathematical concepts and physical phenomena Not necessarily a replacement for “real” demonstrations Physics Education Research Physics education research has demonstrated interesting facts about student learning in Physics: • Retention: • Students retain very little from traditional lectures • Most learning takes place outside the classroom • Conceptual understanding: • “Force Concepts Inventory” to assess understanding Example of FCI Question Physics Education Research Physics education research has demonstrated surprising facts about student learning in Physics: • Retention: • Students retain very little from traditional lectures • Most learning takes place outside the classroom • Conceptual understanding: • “Force Concepts Inventory” to assess understanding • Traditional lectures typically not improve scores • Beliefs about science: • Distinguish between “Novice” and “Expert” • Nearly all Physics courses result in a move towards Novice! How to achieve effective learning in Physics • Cognitive load • We all include too much material • Maximum of items retained in shortterm memory • Need to address student beliefs • Why is this worth learning? • How does it connect to the real world? • Acquiring expert competence • Help students establish an organisational structure • Efficient retrieval of facts • Develop systematic problem-solving strategies An experiment in teaching of optics • • 12-lecture 2nd-year core course in optics Rewritten for 2008: • Lecture notes distributed in advance • Students told to read the notes: • This material will not be covered in the lecture • Lectures used for other activities • • • • • • • Summary of the main points Clicker questions and discussion Specific mathematical derivations Demonstrations and simulations Questions and answers Worked examples After lectures students were asked if they wanted to continue with the experiment Personal Response Systems (PRS or Clickers) “Clickers” are boxes like TV remote controls that allow students to select one answer from a selection and transmit that to a central PC: the results displayed as a histogram We bought clickers which use infra-red to communicate with two receivers installed in our main lecture theatre The receivers link via USB to a PC We bought 250 clickers and receivers for around £5500 (part funded by College) Why use clickers? • Helps students to engage with the lecture • Forces them to think about a question • and decide on an answer independently • Well-designed questions can help reinforce key concepts • And it’s fun • How does it work? • • • • Question is included in a PowerPoint slide Students are given (say) choices Select one and press the appropriate button Afterwards bar chart of responses is given Example of a clicker question What gives the colour to butterfly wings? A B C D E F Coloured dye Light absorption Interference Diffraction Refraction Fluorescence The idea is not to test recall but to ask questions that require students to think about the issues involved to find the solution Results of the experiment Some questionnaire results (including SOLE ) More clickers please, for every course! Like the new approach Lectures are more interesting and engaging The lecture time is far more efficiently spent, with the run through of concepts visually much more useful that droning out a set of lecture notes New approach to teaching, which is much more useful, as it gets us to think about the material introduced to us Clicker questions are fun and promote discussion in class Great lecturer, great course, shit clickers Less time devoted to clickers, as they waste valuable lecture time The clickers are a waste of time, money and no-one takes them seriously I like the new lecture format but the polls are just silly Lessons learnt • • • • Most students responded well to a more interactive lecture style There was a good “buzz” in the lecture theatre Exam performance was at least as good as previously The clickers generally worked well • Instant feedback for students and lecturer • HOWEVER: • Amount of time needed for preparation is very large • There are issues with the large numbers of clickers • Heavily reliant on the technology: need good technical support • In conclusion: • Even in physics, innovation can be adopted successfully • E-learning gives us tools that can enhance teaching and learning • Need to evaluate carefully where innovations are appropriate [...].. .Physics Education Research Physics education research has demonstrated interesting facts about student learning in Physics: • Retention: • Students retain very little from traditional lectures • Most learning takes place outside the classroom • Conceptual understanding: • “Force Concepts Inventory” to assess understanding Example of FCI Question Physics Education Research Physics education research... not to test recall but to ask questions that require students to think about the issues involved to find the solution Results of the experiment Some questionnaire results (including SOLE ) More clickers please, for every course! Like the new approach Lectures are more interesting and engaging The lecture time is far more efficiently spent, with the run through of concepts visually much more useful that... We bought clickers which use infra-red to communicate with two receivers installed in our main lecture theatre The receivers link via USB to a PC We bought 250 clickers and 4 receivers for around £5500 (part funded by College) Why use clickers? • Helps students to engage with the lecture • Forces them to think about a question • and decide on an answer independently • Well-designed questions can help... droning out a set of lecture notes New approach to teaching, which is much more useful, as it gets us to think about the material introduced to us Clicker questions are fun and promote discussion in class Great lecturer, great course, shit clickers Less time devoted to clickers, as they waste valuable lecture time The clickers are a waste of time, money and no-one takes them seriously I like the new lecture... lecture format but the polls are just silly Lessons learnt • • • • Most students responded well to a more interactive lecture style There was a good “buzz” in the lecture theatre Exam performance was at least as good as previously The clickers generally worked well • Instant feedback for students and lecturer • HOWEVER: • Amount of time needed for preparation is very large • There are issues with the... all Physics courses result in a move towards Novice! How to achieve effective learning in Physics • Cognitive load • We all include too much material • Maximum of 7 items retained in shortterm memory • Need to address student beliefs • Why is this worth learning? • How does it connect to the real world? • Acquiring expert competence • Help students establish an organisational structure • Efficient retrieval... Efficient retrieval of facts • Develop systematic problem-solving strategies An experiment in teaching of optics • • 12-lecture 2nd-year core course in optics Rewritten for 2008: • Lecture notes distributed in advance • Students told to read the notes: • This material will not be covered in the lecture • Lectures used for other activities • • • • • • • Summary of the main points Clicker questions and discussion... has demonstrated surprising facts about student learning in Physics: • Retention: • Students retain very little from traditional lectures • Most learning takes place outside the classroom • Conceptual understanding: • “Force Concepts Inventory” to assess understanding • Traditional lectures typically do not improve scores • Beliefs about science: • Distinguish between “Novice” and “Expert” • Nearly... reinforce key concepts • And it’s fun • How does it work? • • • • Question is included in a PowerPoint slide Students are given (say) 5 choices Select one and press the appropriate button Afterwards bar chart of responses is given Example of a clicker question What gives the colour to butterfly wings? A B C D E F Coloured dye Light absorption Interference Diffraction Refraction Fluorescence The idea... discussion Specific mathematical derivations Demonstrations and simulations Questions and answers Worked examples After 6 lectures students were asked if they wanted to continue with the experiment Personal Response Systems (PRS or Clickers) “Clickers” are boxes like TV remote controls that allow students to select one answer from a selection and transmit that to a central PC: the results displayed as a
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